Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Strategize, Optimize, Prioritize


Sweet Potato & Chicken Soup | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #soup

I think that we, as a society, had lost track of the “ize”s over the past number of years. Like a muscle that hadn’t been exercised, it had been fading. A whole generation really hadn’t understood the concepts.

Covid has been taking care of that, necessitating the strengthening of those muscles, introducing the routines back into our lives. In no place more prominently than the grocery store.

And as difficult as food shopping has become, how stressful it’s been to negotiate, I’m thinking this really isn’t a bad thing at all.

Because the “ize”s are, I think, necessary skills not just when it comes to shopping, but to successfully navigating many facets of life.
I don't blame those who are unfamiliar with the concept. Many of us had grown up in (or for many years just lived in) an easier time. Not necessarily easy, a broad brush I can't use, but easier. Something, I might note, we were neither necessarily aware of, nor appreciative of, until everything changed. Covid, the great equalizer saw to that.
It was a time when we just ran out and grabbed what we wanted or needed. Stores, malls, they were everywhere, and in stock. Prices were, for the most part, something we could deal with, especially when it came to food and smaller items. Larger needs we may need to budget for. Until Covid became a universal budget buster. 

And brought back the "ize"s.
 Strategize, Optimize, Prioritize | graphc designed by, featured on, and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #blogging

And one place where it's easy to see both the need and the results is the grocery store, where we're all learning (or relearning) to exercise our "ize" muscles.

Strategize: more than ever it's a time to make a list (and check it twice), look at the circulars for sales, check coupons, be open to trying a store brand alternative to one or two of your items.

But strategy isn't only about price, it can be about convenience or time saving too. There are instances when your schedule, time constraints, stress level, or desire not to be inconvenienced, makes paying a little more worth not having to wait in line to check out your 45 items yourself.
Optimize: when a needed item is not on the shelves, can you optimize whatever may be available? Think on the fly, conceptualize, compromise, come up with a workable alternative?

Truth is, not only is this an opportunity to use your imagination, show that you can adapt, but many times the results can be better than the original idea.

Sweet Potato & Chicken Soup | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #soup
Sweet Potato & Chicken Soup
Prioritize: this is where you have to make some final decisions, especially when it comes to price. Whether you've hit your budget limit, exceeded it and don't want to take out a second mortgage in order to check out, or have just had enough for one day, it's time to weigh the options. Of the items you still have on your list, which ones do you need now, and which can possibly be pushed off to the next visit? Which items already in your cart are impulse purchases, not necessities.

I just want to say here that impulse purchases and small treats are two different things. I'm actually an advocate of self indulgence now and then. We all have days when sitting back, shutting our eyes, and letting one little piece of chocolate melt in our mouths makes all the difference. My advice, find a way to embrace that.

And, although not an "ize," this is also a time to practice self discipline. Whatever decisions you made, can you live with them, commit to not running out for one more . . . something before it's time for your next shopping trip?
Beneficial precepts, all of them, and although they may be brought together prominently in one place, it's a missed opportunity not to realize their broader value.
Because, when it comes not just to grocery shopping but most situations in life, it helps to remember this valuable lesson: 

wait for it . . .

wait for it . . .

the ayes ize have it. 
Sorry, not sorry.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Sweet Potato & Chicken Soup         

Printable Recipe

2 TBSP butter
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 cups chicken broth
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP maple syrup
1 cup cooked skinless chicken, chopped or shredded

*In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Mix in the onion, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
*Whisk in the chicken broth, then add the sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft.
*Remove from heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Working in batches, carefully pour into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
*Return the blended soup to the pot and return the pot to the stove on medium/low heat. Whisk in the sour cream, then mix in the heavy cream, maple syrup, and chicken. Cook and stir until hot, about 5 minutes.


Friday, February 24, 2023

Havoc or Haven: Monthly Poetry Group


Ricotta Bread | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #bread




Last Friday of the month is for Monthly Poetry Group to rhyme.

Diane, Mimi, and I take turns,
"Invisible for One Day," the theme this time.
As usual, today I'll try,
a poem to write . . . or fudge.
Whether I'm successful or not,
you get to be the judge.  


Invisible for One Day, poetry challenge based on a theme. | Graphic property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #poetry #blogging


Havoc or Haven

If you were invisible
for just one day,
what would you do?
Wreak havoc? Play?
Dance like no one's looking,
twirl, swing and sway?
Maybe jump onstage,
at the local ballet?
In your neighbor's garden, 
make yourself a bouquet?  
Eavesdrop on your kids,
see what they really say?

Go to the pharmacy,
make a condoms window display?
Or take to their bathroom, 
and get rid of that grey?

Visit a restaurant,
switch keys on the valet?
Then sneak inside, 
and eat at their buffet?


Ricotta Bread | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #bread
Ricotta Bread


If I were invisible
for just one day,
I'd pick a comfortable,
cozy place to lay,

disappear into a book,
imagination, take me away.
Sometimes peace and quiet,
is much more than okay.

Monthly Poetry Group, a monthly group writing challenge, poetry based on a theme | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #poetry

Before you go, stop by these blogs for more poetry:

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Ricotta Bread

1 (1#) frozen bread dough loaf
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 TBSP parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
3 TBSP butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder

*Grease a piece of plastic wrap, wrap the frozen dough in it and refrigerate for 6 hours (I do this overnight).
*Defrost the spinach, squeeze as much of the liquid out of it as possible, and refrigerate.
*Once the dough is defrosted, flour a rolling area and grease a 9 X 5 loaf pan.
*Roll the dough out to about a 9 X 16 rectangle.
*Mix the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, salt, pepper, and mozzarella. Carefully spread onto the dough. Using the long side, roll the dough up into a long tube, then cut into 18 slices.
*Place the slices into the bottom of the loaf pan. Gently press down.
*Melt the butter and mix in the garlic powder. Using a pastry brush, brush half of the butter mixture onto the dough in the pan.
*Gently flatten the remaining dough slices, then place into the pan and brush with the remaining butter mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 4 hours to rise.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to remove from the pan, slice and serve.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Makers, Breakers, and Doormats


Quiche Florentine | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #breakfast 


 Rules are made to be broken. I'm not sure when I first heard that saying, but I know I've heard it many times. 

Now I'm not talking about "i" before "e," except after "c," or when sounding like "a," as in "neighbor" and "weigh. Although, if you're going to talk about rules, that's a perfect example of a rule, not only made to be broken, but that actually includes the rule for breaking the rule. Yikes.

What I am referring to is that space below the level of laws, but above the level of suggestions. Rules.

It's actually General Douglas MacArthur who is credited with the quote. Said, it's thought, to justify unsanctioned actions. I'm not sure why it's lived on, I mean, as persuasive excuses go, that one strikes me as pretty lame. It probably is used so frequently because it's sort of the one-size-fits-all of excuses.

So, I often wondered, if they're so often broken, why make them? 

Well, most communities, micro and macro, over and above laws, need some level of structure. Schools have them, neighborhoods do, and we make them ourselves in our homes, especially when raising children.

At schools, you wait your turn in line, don't cheat on tests, don't write in the books. 

In neighborhoods, you don't snow blow your driveway onto the street for the plow to deposit at the end of someone else's driveway (broken by my neighbor on the left). You don't blow all the leaves from your trees off of your driveway and lawn onto the neighbor's lawn (broken by my neighbor on the right).

And at home, you don't just put your spoon in the dishwasher when there are dirty dishes in the sink (Hubs, I'm looking at you). And you don't put dinner in the oven and then go out to do errands.


Quiche Florentine | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #breakfast
Quiche Florentine

Because we do need to acknowledge that most rules do have a practical purpose. Some about safety, others just about avoiding chaos.

But, of course, they're broken. More and more frequently. All of them. 
And I've been noticing a stark change, a shift in attitudes towards behavioral restrictions, functional organization, and the resulting compliance, or growing lack thereof.

There are certain people who just think that rules are made for everyone else, not them. And for those of us, like me, who are generally rule followers (don't roll your eyes, I said "generally"), it makes for a really frustrating existence.

Did you know that MacArthur's quote has a second part? I didn't. It's actually "rules are made to be broken, and are too often for the lazy to hide behind."

I kinda resent that second part, feels awful judgy, demeaning even.
Hiding, moral compass, or upbringing, no matter what makes rule followers do so, many are starting to feel like chumps. The more we see those around us reap the benefits of doing whatever they want, and benefiting from that freedom, the more any constraints erode. Jeopardizing safety and moving the balance toward chaos.  

I know the saying is about "assume," but it seems as though it's "responsible" that makes an ass of you and me. A doormat, anyway.

Makers, Breakers, and Doormats | graphic designed by, featured on, and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #blogging

In our current social climate, where self-service rules, and few understand the value, and obligation, of "do unto others as you'd have others do unto you" (anyone heard of the Golden Rule?), more people, far too many people, are following suit. Not even feeling at all obliged to justify. Rules, after all, are made to be broken.
If not followed by all, rules take on an ominous function, used to bind, to control, and to manipulate. Breaking us into three camps, a caste system of sorts: the makers, the breakers, and the followers.
Many of the makers are breakers. The breakers are growing exponentially. Many of the followers have had enough. 

Not really conducive to a functioning society.

I know I said this wasn't about laws, specifically anyway, but there are too many parallels to ignore. Law makers don't follow rules of decorum, of the peoples' house in which they (self) serve, of common decency, or of the laws by which they expect the rest of us to live. When it comes to that higher level of rule making, our laws, and our current crop of law makers, I have my own version of that quote:

Rules are made to be broken by those who make the rules in the first place, to achieve their ultimate goal:
Not to protect, not to defend, just, quite simply, to rule.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Quiche Florentine    

Printable Recipe

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBSP grated parmesan
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 stick butter, chopped
1 TBSP milk

6 oz frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1/3 cup frozen chopped onion, defrosted
1 TBSP flour
1/2 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 slices (about 2 oz) provolone cheese, chopped
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

*Grease your quiche dish.
*Whisk together 1 1/4 cups of flour, the sugar, 1/8 tsp of salt, 1 TBSP grated parmesan, and the Italian seasoning. Add the chopped butter to the bowl and allow to sit for about an hour for the butter to start to soften.
*Add 1 TBSP milk to the dough ingredients and mix together until it starts to form a dough. Place between 2 pieces of wax paper and roll out to about an 11 inch circle. Remove the top piece of wax paper, and carefully place into the prepared quiche dish, dough side down. Remove the top piece of wax paper and gently press the dough into and 3/4 of the way up the sides of the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
*Firmly press the spinach between paper towels a few times to remove as much liquid as possible. Place in a large bowl. Do the same with the onions. 
*Sprinkle 1 TBSP flour onto the crust, then sprinkle with the provolone, and finally the mushrooms.
*To the bowl with the spinach and onions, add the eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup parmesan, 3/4 tsp salt, the pepper, and the cayenne. Whisk together well and pour into the crust.
*Bake for 45 minutes, the quiche should be completely set. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing.


Friday, February 17, 2023

I Had Plans: Fly on the Wall

Mint Blondies | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert



 Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 3 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts.

We'd had both snow and sleet. Hubs wasn't working, but I saw that he was putting on his coat.
Me: I bet the roads are dangerous, maybe you shouldn't go out there.
Hubs: Well, Mega Millions is up to 1.3 billion and the drawing is tonight, I was going to go get us a few tickets.
Me: I bet the roads are dangerous, be careful out there.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

He did play a ticket for himself, and my numbers for me. 
I didn't win. 
I felt obliged to share the news with my Facebook friends.

I shot off a quick status, but when I checked the page later, I found that the post had 257 likes, 77 comments, and had been shared 59 times.

I Had Plans | graphic made by, featured on, and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #blogging

I guess I'm not the only one who had plans . . .

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Same day. Hubs decided he was going out to clear off the sidewalk. Since he'd already easily driven up and down the driveway, he decided not to bother with the snowblower and just shovel the sidewalk and front walkway.

I was concerned, there was ice mixed in with the snow, which is heavy, and I didn't want him to overdo it. He did the sidewalk and the front walk, then I saw him shoveling part of the driveway.

Me (yelling from the front door): You said you weren't going to do the driveway. It's too heavy, stop and come in.
Hubs (yelling back to me): I'm just making a path from the walkway to the sidewalk.
Me (still yelling): Yeah, well if you drop dead from a heart attack, who's going to do my taxes?

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Hubs texted me from work:

Hubs: What are you up to? You busy?
Me: Just multitasking. Need something?
Hubs: Not important, you sound busy, don't want disturb you.
Me: ttyl. If it's not important, I'll get back to what I was doing.

Don't tell him I was listening to the news, checking on a new book to read, and playing a word game, OK?

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

It's been a long time since I had little kids from whom I had to hide baking supplies so they couldn't get into them. Recently, I bought some Andes mints, and I did notice the family looking at them in a way that made me feel like they wouldn't be around long enough to make it to the recipe. So instead of putting them on my baking shelf in the pantry, I slipped them into the desk drawer.

Hubs: What are you doing?
Me: I'm hiding the Andes from you guys.
Hubs: You realize we're standing right here, don't you?

OK, so I guess hiding treats is no longer my superpower.

Mint Blondies | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

Mint Blondies

PurDude and I text every day. Usually just a quick check in, but if he has time we chat a bit. This day, I was exasperated.

Me: You have lived in Boulder for 3 years, but your mail still comes here, I have an insurance EOB here from when you were home over Thanksgiving and were sick.
PurDude: I don't need it though, it's just an insurance form.
Me: But it, and everything else, shouldn't still be coming here.
PurDude: But Mom, you're my sorting station.
Me: Huh?
PurDude: You throw away the junk, handle what you can, and send me the few things I actually have to deal with. Isn't it great to feel needed?
Me: Well, I need you too. I need you to change your address . . .

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Most days I just pour my coffee into a mug like a normal person. But on certain days, I'll use my theme mugs. When Purdue plays a basketball or football game, I'll use my Purdue Mom mug that day. Same with my Patriots mug, and I use my Halloween mug all through October.

As you know, last weekend was the Super Bowl. There was also a Purdue basketball game that day.

Me: I don't know whether to use my Purdue mug or my Patriots mug.
Hubs: The Patriots aren't playing today, they've been out of it for a long time.
Me (clearly bristling): And your point is . . .
Hubs (understanding his agregious error): Gooo, Patriots!

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Later that day we were about to turn on the Super Bowl. I knew a guy who had played for Purdue was in the game, but I didn't know which team.

Me: Which team is Karlaftis on?
Hubs: KC.
Me: I won't be watching much of the game, but after watching him play for Purdue, I'm interested in seeing how he does.
Hubs: Yeah, let's see if he gets any sex.
Me: Sex, on the field? In the middle of the Super Bowl? I doubt it.
Hubs: Sacks. Sacks. Not sex, sacks.

Hey, I heard what I heard.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Getting old is tough. I may have mentioned that one or two or a thousand times before. 

They say it helps if you can laugh about it.

There are 6 stairs from my main floor, then a landing, then 9 more steps (yes, I went and counted) to the top floor.

Hubs had been showering, and I was heading up to shower. We met up on the landing.

Me: Well, it's about time!
Hubs: Hey, I don't move as fast as I used to.
Me: Tell me about it, I headed up these stairs 20 minutes ago.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

And then there's this (another popular FB status):

Coffee in the Fridge | graphic creatd by, featured on, and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #blogging



Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics 

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Mint Blondies

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
13 Andes mints
3 eggs
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*In a medium sized bowl, microwave the butter with the brown sugar, just until all of the butter is melted and it's smooth when stirred. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
*Unwrap the mints. Finely chop 8 of them and set aside. Place the remaining mints in a small bowl and microwave until smooth when stirred. Set aside.
*Whisk the eggs and mint extract into the butter and brown sugar. Once incorporated, mix in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Gently fold in the chopped mints.
*Pour into the prepared pan, drizzle with the remaining melted mints, and swirl gently into the top of the batter with a toothpick.
*Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Only Loves: Word Counters


Sausage & Broccoli Penne, dinner in 30 minutes | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Counting my words again.

Today my fellow Word Counters and I are sharing our monthly group post. Each month one group member picks  a number between 12 and 50. All participating bloggers are then challenged to write something (or a few somethings, as the case may be) using that exact number of words. Today we all share what we came up with. 

This month's number is 24.  
It was chosen by Mimi of Messymimi's Meanderings.

As I've been doing in these Word Counters posts, I've chosen a theme and am using my word count multiple times in keeping with the theme. This month I've chosen the theme Only Loves.


~ Happy Valentine's Day! Taking a break from news (politics) to acknowledge loves, small and large. Looking for love in all the right places . . . everywhere.

~ My older son buys and sells limited edition and rare albums. I love seeing his face when he's scored at a limited edition drop.

~ And hearing the throaty growl of my younger son's car pulling into the driveway after a loooong drive home. And that very first hug.

~ An afternoon in the den with my family, hot drink in hand, a fire roaring in the fireplace, and whatever game in the background.

Only Loves, Looking for Love in all the Right Places | graphic designed by, featured on, and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #Blogging

~ Hubs shoveling so I can grill in the winter. And just how delicious a grilled steak is when you haven't grilled in a while.

~ Those moments after the cleaners leave, before anyone else comes home. The house looks clean, smells clean, and I enjoy it in silent bliss.

~ Knowing I've made a favorite when I put dinner on the table and someone's eyes light up. Watching that meal disappear is validating, satisfying.

~ Talking recipes with my mom. Updating a recipe to make it easier. And one that's successful on the first try (and the pictures, too).

Sausage & Broccoli Penne, dinner in 30 minutes | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner
Sausage & Broccoli Penne


~ That first silent snow clinging to the tree branches, pristinely white. Those first flower buds in the spring. Catching sight of inchworms, praying mantis, hummingbirds.
~ Finding what I want on sale, hearing that certain song, snagging the cl0sest parking spot, a surprise visit, finding what I'd thought was lost.

~ An afternoon nap, a freshly washed sweatshirt, fuzzy socks, and all those little things that bring an unexpected smile to an otherwise ordinary day.

~The end of a productive day, meals served, dishes put away, coffee maker set up for morning, Kindle is loaded and warm bed awaits. 


Word Counters, a monthly multiblogger writing challenge | run by and graphic property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #bloggingchallenge #MyGraphics

Here are links to the other Word Counters posts:

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Sausage & Broccoli Penne        

Printable Recipe

1 box (12 oz) penne pasta
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves, garlic
5 oz smoked sausage: smoked links, kielbassa, linguica, andouille (I use the cajun style)
1 can (14.5 oz) Italian style stewed tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup broccoli florets

*Cook the penne to al dente. Drain and keep warm.
*While the pasta is cooking. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. 
*Slice the cooked sausage on the bias and add to the pan along with the stewed tomatoes, white wine, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring now and then.
*Stir in the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Add the warm penne to the pan, toss with the other ingredients for about a minute or two. Remove from the heat and serve.